Vice President Dick Cheney recently annoyed the national press corps by using an electrical outlet to charge his iPod, loaded
with Johnny Cash tunes, when journalists wanted to use the outlet for filing stories in-flight.
The only appropriate thing to say in a situation like that would be, "You rock, Mr. Vice President."
Through the generosity of my son and daughter-in-law, I suddenly find myself the owner of a sleek iPod nano. I too, now rock.
For some time, I had been the only family member without earphones perpetually glued to my head and cords dangling about
my upper body.
The kids have long worn headphones listening to music on CD players or iPods while reading or hanging out, and the
husband has worn headphones to listen to ball games while doing yard work.
The main drawback to this headphone connection is that when you want to tell them something, you have to knock them over
first to get their attention.
They have not been alone in their social autism. Last weekend we went out to dinner and noticed a mother and her two
children a couple of tables over, each connected to electronic devices. They tinkered with their individual gizmos as they
waited for their food, as the food arrived, and as they ate their meals.
The only time one of them disconnected was when cheese began sliding off his pizza. Ah, the intimacy of a family dinner.
On a recent airline flight, the head of a gray-haired man several rows in front of me began bobbing back and forth. Soon after
his shoulders began gyrating wildly. My seatmate asked if I thought the man was ill. "Perhaps he is having a seizure," she said.
I craned my neck for a better look. "He's fine," I said. "Just listening to an iPod."
Despite the iPod's convenience and marvelous sound, I am still searching for that fine line between the socially acceptable and
the totally self-absorbed.
I find I am unable to bring myself to wear them at the mall and walk around like all the other zombies locked in a trance. But
that's hardly a surprise; I am not able to wear little belly shirts and low-slung jeans at the mall either.
I tried listening to them in the car. That was fine for a while. But then both the girls had low batteries and were actually talking
to one another. So I turned it off, as I didn't want to miss any conversation.
I wore them on a walk around the neighborhood, but found myself dislodging the earpieces so I could hear the chatter of birds
and squirrels, and the sound of any footsteps that might be approaching from behind.
I wore them working in the kitchen while making dinner and that was delightful, marred only by the fact that the smoke
detector activated in the middle of B. B. King playing "Bad Case of Love." I hadn't heard the buzzer on the oven, and B.B.
wasn't the only thing smokin' in the kitchen.
I enjoy using the iPod at home very much. As a matter of fact, I am using it right now as I sit at the computer finishing off
this column, pondering people who prefer withdrawing into a world of isolationism over engaging the fascinating world around
Patsy Cline is singing "Crazy."
How very appropriate.